Stranger Than Fiction

Here’s the story. At the end, you can vote in the comments on what you think actually happened.

I awoke early from, of all things, a college dorm room. and decided to go for a walk. It was a few hours before my daughter’s soccer game that morning A bike path bordering a wildlife reserve provided a scenic backdrop for my jaunt. Moments later, a sheriff’s car passed by at a crawl. The officer slowed and then came to a full stop. I pressed on catching up to the car and all the while wondering if he was looking for a missing student who’d had too much to drink, and perhaps got lost on their way home.

“Excuse me,” the officer called as I approached, “can I ask you a favor?”

“Sure,” I said.

I mean really, who says “no” to a cop? He was thirty-something with a pleasant face complete with ruddy cheeks and a burly physique.  No partner with him.  I found I wanted to help him, uniform or not.

“Since you are walking, can you keep your eye out for a bloody butterfly knife? Do you know what that looks like?”

It took me a moment to process the idea of a bloody knife.  This was no lost student.  Had someone died?  I had never heard of a butterfly knife.  I shook my head in the negative. He proceeded to describe a double-bladed knife with holes in the handle. It sounded like a scary weapon.

“If you find it, stay put, and call 911.”

I nodded, still shocked that I may have been enlisted to assist in a murder investigation.    Needless to say, my pleasant morning walk had taken on a whole new tone. Was I about to discover a murder weapon? If I did, would I have to testify in a murder trial?

The following options tell the potential outcomes to the whole story.

Option 1. The above never happened, it is the premise I thought of for a new murder mystery novel.

Option 2. As I ambled along after the patrol car left, I spotted a Lincoln’s sparrow. The bird startled and as I tracked its progress into the weeds, I saw a flash of silver. I called 911, waited as instructed, and missed my daughter’s soccer game, while the police questioned me and collected evidence.

Option 3. I kept my eyes peeled for the weapon as requested. The thick vegetation went on and on. Looking for this knife was equivalent to finding a needle in a haystack. The reserve came to an abrupt end at the next intersection. At the stoplight, to my relief, I hadn’t found the knife. I turnfinished my walk and went on to my daughter’s soccer game with a new appreciation how difficult it is to gather evidence and find a murder weapon.

Option 4. I walked down the path next to the reserve without seeing anything. At the stoplight, I opted to go straight and avoid the southern border of the wildlife area preserve, thinking the landscaped business center would be a stupid place to toss a murder weapon. Too many gory images had filled my mind ever since the sheriff had left.  I stopped at an urban creek about midway to the next intersection looking to spot a vocalizing song sparrow.  At the bottom of the flowing creek, I spotted the knife.  No blood though, the creek had washed all traces away.  Still, I recoiled, my heart thudding. A quick glance in both directions confirmed the sheriff had not returned, but also that no one watched my movements. I called 911 as instructed and gave my location. After I hung up, I hazarded a second look and to my horror, what I’d seen as a knife, was actually the crossed leaves of a eucalyptus branch.  My imagination had gotten the best of me.  I was forced to wait for the cops to arrive and apologize for my foolish mistake.

Option 5. I continued on with my walk without incident, but after turning around I noticed a man carrying a model airplane under one arm and a thin branch in the other. He periodically stopped and searched through the bushes with his psuedo walking stick. As I drew closer the man stopped whacking at the vegetation and studied me. He had the weathered, wrinkled skin if a hard drinker. I averted my gaze and kept walking.  I waited until he was out of earshot before calling 911. Moments later, the sheriff appeared seemingly out of no where. The man was apprehended, frisked and cuffed. I got a friendly wave from the officer, but whether or not the man was a murderer, I’ll never know.

Which option did you choose? Why? What made it seem reasonable? Other than option 1, each of the other options do have an element of truth and option 3 was what really happened.  However, I did see a Lincoln’s sparrow in the preserve, a singing song sparrow caused me to pause along an urban creek south of the preserve, and I did see a eucalyptus branch in the stream, there was even a creepy looking man carrying a model airplane and whacking at vegetation near where the sheriff had stopped me. The rest is all my imagination.

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2 Responses to Stranger Than Fiction

  1. Fran Cain says:

    I was hoping it was Option 3! It really felt creepy and if I was alone on that path looking for a bloody weapon, I would have really been spooked! Whew! The other options were believable since I don’t know what woudl happen next if a weapon really was found.

  2. Susan Berman says:

    Option 3 for me. The others seem a bit far fetched for real life. Option 4 s my second choice as it shows the power of suggestion and a creative imagination. But how embarrassing to have to apologize to the police.

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